I boarded my plane in Frankfurt punctually at 2:45 PM and it took off in time at 3:20 PM. The lady at the counter had already told me what to expect: an almost empty plane. We were 50 passengers maximum, in an Airbus designed to carry 289 people. The crew made up an extra 12 persons! It was a very relaxed flight, 10.000 km, 5:50 hours travel time. We crossed the Balkans, then Turkey and passed Cyprus, from there on over Damascus and maybe parts of Iraq, I am not exactly sure, before we entered Saudi airspace and headed for the United Arab Emirates.
It was strange flying across this volatile region, being all alone on my journey.
I thought about what it meant to cross these countries, in darkness, and there was almost utter darkness on the ground. Just a few light spots here and there. How much chaos and how many wars has this region seen, how many lives sacrificed. I don’t know much about the Middle East. It just struck me looking at the map and seeing all these city names that we all know from the news. And being up there, in comfort, in quietness (actually I was enjoying Eithad’s excellent musical program and listening, among others, to Bach’s suites for viola da gamba), and becoming aware of how much this peace and affluence means for us. Several kms under me, people live in dire circumstances. I don’t know, I get a bit upset by this…
Approaching Abu Dhabi, the lights grew more and more and it was a sizzling view that I was enjoying. The oil buys a lot of street lamps and well lit bridges connecting islands look spectacular. The richness of these emirates was quite visible. Landing in Abu Dhabi at 11:30 PM local time I was not exactly looking forward to the 3:30 hours I had to spend there. The terminal looked like it was built in the 1980ies: with green and blue tiles, the outer forms like dome of a mosque. Inside, the place was packed with all sorts of duty free shops, way too few seats for what seemed like huge masses of passengers. Some were sitting on the floors, others kept walking around and around. I was able to access a free Internet terminal for 15 minutes but that was it. Apart from that I hunted for a seat and tried to read and listen to some podcasts. The place was just too packed for me.
My plane left at 3:00 AM local time and it was again not even half full. I popped in a sleeping pill and fell asleep right after I had begged a stewardess to serve me something to eat and had devoured it (I got two sandwiches)….